The specificity of the novel genre is that the author needs to put a weighty idea into a simplified plot. And this does not work for everyone. But the main problem is that most often the story can only be understood by immersing oneself in the realities of the days to which the work is dedicated, and in the realities of the days when it was written. John Steinbeck’s Of Mice and Men requires, in addition, another important detail: an examination of the personality of the author himself.
The Great Depression officially lasted 10 years, but the pre-depression and post-depression years were no less severe. Total unemployment and the economic crisis do not fit into a rigid chronological framework, they are multifactorial processes, they do not appear and disappear overnight. But the main thing is that behind all the statistical numbers and currency symbols are the tragic fates of ordinary people.
These are the kind of people we see in the story “Of Mice and Men. They are looking for a place to stay, they meet similar poor people and fellow human beings, and they continue to make far-reaching plans. After all, they are not like everyone else; they are bound to succeed. That’s the credo with which two friends, Lenny and George, stomped the West Coast of the United States. The story is silent on exactly how they became friends, Steinbeck only superficially immerses the reader in the past when George promises a dying woman he knows to care for her mentally retarded stepchild. And the promise, made years ago, has caused a whole heap of problems for the young, bright and ambitious man who has tied his fate to the retarded big guy.
Lenny is the centerpiece of the whole narrative. The image of the good-natured tightwad is so ingrained in the reader’s mind that being studied not only by Steinbeck’s average fans, but also by celebrities, has left memories of himself in other popular characters. The most memorable and characteristic example is John Coffey from Stephen King’s The Green Mile. Giant in size, childlike in mind, a love of mice, and even a tragedy on a rural ranch. King, reflecting a whole series of similarities to Lenny from the story “Of Mice and Men,” is not copying the hero of his work, but paying homage to John Steinbeck’s immortal work.
A Brief Analysis of the Story “Of Mice and Men
The work was written in 1937. The action takes place in California. The time of action is the years of the Great Depression in America.
Characters. The main characters are two workers, George Milton and Lenny Small. They travel the world and moonlight wherever they can.
Lenny is different from other people – he is a very big, strong, but mentally retarded guy. He is a kind man who loves animals. But because of his excessive strength, love and stupidity, he sometimes goes overboard and kills his animals.
George, on the other hand, is very smart and cautious; he looks out for his friend and often gets him out of various trouble.
“Of Mice and Men” is a picture presented to the reader of the severe human hardships and trials that have befallen millions of U.S. citizens. And the tragic fate of Lenny and George is but one story among hundreds, thousands, and millions of such dramas.
It is a tale of loss of hope, of broken plans, of hopelessness. But for all that, Of Mice and Men is a tale of preserving humanity. Each of the poor dreamed of escaping from a pile of problems, and some eventually succeeded, to be sure. But only a few can say that they stayed true to themselves, did not lose face and did not lose moral character.
What “Of Mice and Men” story is about
The ranch to which the characters have arrived holds a whole crowd of people driven into the fields by stifling unemployment. A pile of Americans of all sorts and statuses with the same diagnosis: a blighted fate. Some are still dreaming, others are living out their days; some find amusement in constant fighting, others are looking for companionship.
All the events in the barracks, barns, and fields of the ranch seem sluggish, the narrative proceeding smoothly and without any apparent aggravation until the very end. As a result, the denouement becomes overwhelming and makes you rewind the entire plot of the work in your head.
After all, so many hitherto insignificant events take on a completely different coloring. And two episodes are the most striking in the end and require comparison: the massacre of old stinky dog old man Plume and the murder of Lenny.
Plume could not find the strength to put his beloved dog, who could no longer even feed himself, out of his misery; Carlson had to shoot him, after which the one-armed old man was immensely mortified by his weakness and betrayal.
And George had to find the strength to pull the trigger and unload a Luger revolver into the back of his friend’s head.
For a long time Lenny had been the closest person to George, and at the same time had brought him plenty of problems. But that didn’t stop them from staying together until the goofy big guy was in danger of being lynched or spending the rest of his life in an insane asylum.
A review of the novel “Of Mice and Men”
There are some books that you hear about often (sometimes even too much), you see them on the long shelves of bookstores, you find references to them in your favorite books or in conversations between people around you.
Such a book for me was John Steinbeck’s Of Mice and Men, written back in 1937 by a handy American from hot California. I first heard about it when I was thirteen, but I didn’t read it until I was eighteen. I think that was only for the best.
“Of Mice and Men” is a very entertaining, delicious and scary tale. It’s hard to read about the mentally ill in general. About their hopes and dreams that invariably get dashed. About their vulnerability and gullibility. About the evil they do, often unintentionally, and because of which they later suffer painfully.
This is a serious and very challenging story written in a light and simple language. Behind every line you can feel the reality, the experience of the author and passed on to his readers. Reading, I again and again faced with the fact that the characters in this story individually not bad guys, but together – terrible people.
They do not care about each other, this indifference rests in the depths of their souls. As soon as they reveal them to one another, believe in a common dream, and the world in which they live will crush it. The hunchback knows this, hiding from the decay of the soul around him in a stuffy closet with books. He has resigned himself to the fact that he no longer recognizes the breath of life, much less its charms.
This is the story of two itinerant laborers wandering around California during the Great Depression (1929-1939) looking for work. One of them, George Milton, has taken on the custody of a wacky but kindly giant, Lenny Healy. He is attached to him and feels responsible for him–but this feeling sometimes succumbs to his desires: to drink, to party, to relax.
These he sometimes does, finding work with Healy on a distant farm, while his giant wanders around all alone, piquing the interest of the local bored lollipop lady, the farm owner’s son’s wife.
Because of his absences, Milton has been unable to keep track of Lennie at all times, and so the accidental death of this ranch girl places a heavy burden on George, as does the responsibility for what happened. Milton realizes that it was his mistake.
He also realizes that poor Healy will be put in an insane asylum from which he will never be released. He will be locked up in a world of lunatics. So George kills Healy with a revolver to the back of his head and takes responsibility for his death, too. He realizes that this is the best outcome for Lennie; George has invented a dream for him that he himself has destroyed. В
ew this dream is what made it all happen. It was George’s dream, the dream that they would save up and buy their own little farm, and Lennie would take care of the rabbits. It was a dream that made Healy’s life pleasant and meaningful, and that’s why George invented it, so that Lennie would have some purpose in life. This dream is the foundation upon which the plot of the story stands.
What is the meaning of the title? “About Mice and Men.” I think it’s about Lenny – he loves mice, they’re soft and warm, so they make him happy as a child; it’s the same with people – he’s drawn to them, or rather, to their outer shells. He treats people like mice; he wants to touch those he finds pleasant, but when he touches them he loses control over himself, and then a misfortune happens, sometimes fatal.
The puppy he was carrying around, so cute and good, tried to bite Lennie, who slapped him lightly and killed him; the farmer’s son, Curly, decided to take his anger out on the big man and lunged at him – Lennie only had to grab his arm to break it. And he could have killed Curly. Just like a puppy.
The tale ends with a question from one of the workers on the farm, Fatty Carlson – why are George and their foreman, Dewy, so depressed? Fatty has a shallow soul, and he doesn’t understand responsibility. He understands only his own interest, his own momentary desires–that’s why he kills the old dog, the one-armed Rumpus, because it “stinks,” as he says.
Carlson is an ordinary little man, but a dangerous one-he kills the dog because it bothers him, and George kills poor Lenny with his own revolver; and without the revolver, there would have been no deaths. So it’s as dangerous for a gun to exist, to be in someone’s possession, as it is for people to fire it. As Terry Pratchett wrote, “It’s not my fault. It’s all your fault. I’m an ordinary shotgun. Guns don’t kill people. People are killed by people.”
The Meaning of “Of Mice and Men”
The whole atmosphere of the story is saturated with frustration. There is no room for much light and kindness, and the only light motives in Steinbeck are the friendship of the main characters and the mercy that George shows to his friend. It would seem that one could call murder mercy? But it is worth taking into account that it was hard for the bright and naive Lennie to live in a society in which his perfectly childlike and sincerely innocent desires were misunderstood and condemned, and he himself was always threatened with jail, or a madhouse, or death. And death by the hand of a friend in this case – really the best way out.
The work “Of Mice and Men” makes you think about the reality that the “American Dream” crashes against. Not everyone has a good place in today’s society. Not everyone is equal, and not all people are brothers. There are always those who get knocked out of society and remain reviled and unaccepted. And there are always those who achieve more at the expense of the labor of others.
15 facts about the book “Of Mice and Men” that you may not have known
1. Steinbeck himself was doing what Lennie and George were doing. Although Steinbeck graduated from Stanford University and had already published five books by the time he began work on Of Mice and Men, he had more in common with his protagonists than readers might think. “I was a tumbleweed myself for quite a long time,” the author told The New York Times in 1937, using the now obsolete term for seasonal workers (bindle-stiff; note). – And I worked in the very area where the story takes place. In the story “Of Mice and Men,” Steinbeck wanted to tell the story of a community that tends to be overlooked by literature and high culture.
2. The image of Lenny was based on a real person. In the same interview with The New York Times, Steinbeck recalled the worker whose story formed the basis of Lenny’s storyline: “Lenny is a real person. He’s now in an insane asylum in California. I’ve been working with him for weeks. He didn’t kill the girl. He killed the foreman at the ranch. Got mad because he fired his buddy and stuck a pitchfork right in his gut. Don’t even ask me how many times. I saw him do it myself. We couldn’t stop him until it was too late.”
3. “Of Mice and Men” can perhaps be called the first “play-novel.” The stage art interested Steinbeck as much as literature, so the book exists between these two worlds. As in a real theatrical play, the action of “Of Mice and Men” develops in three acts. The narration is in the nature of stage directions, and the dialogue creates a sense of stage play.
4. Steinbeck won the New York Society of Theater Critics Award for Best Stage Production. About eight months after its publication, Of Mice and Men was first staged in New York City. It premiered in November 1937. The following year Steinbeck received the New York Society of Theater Critics’ Award for Best Stage Production.
5. The original title was much more prosaic. Before Steinbeck decided to pay homage in the title to Scottish poet Robert Burns’s 1785 poem “To the Field Mouse Ruined by My Plow,” he had seriously considered a far more prosaic title like Something That Happened.
6. The poem used in the title sounds different than people usually remember it. Ask an American reader to recall the lines of the poem that inspired the title of Steinbeck’s story, and you’re likely to hear, “The best laid plans of mice and men often go awry.” In fact, it’s just an English paraphrase of the original Scottish poem, which says, “The best-laid schemes o’ mice an’ men gang aft agley.” (In translation, both phrases correspond to S. Marshak’s well-known translation: “The best-laid schemes of mice and men often go awry and askew”; the only difference is in the vocabulary used.)
7. Steinbeck’s dog ate his homework. In fact. Perhaps Steinbeck’s dog, named Toby, did not like the fate of his counterpart in the book. Either way, the dog chewed up the original version of the story, which the author wrote by hand on postal paper.
8. The story was one of the first books selected for the Book of the Month Club. The Book of the Month Club, which ran for 88 years from 1926 to 2014, was the first mail-order book service to operate in the United States. The book “Of Mice and Men” was chosen for distribution by this organization before it was even published.
9. This book is read most often in American schools. In the 1990s, the Center for the Study and Teaching of Literature ranked Steinbeck’s story among the ten most commonly used books for lessons in public, Catholic, and private schools.
10. Meanwhile, it also provokes the most controversy. “Of Mice and Men” proves that the strength of negative reaction is directly related to popularity. The novella ranks fifth on the American Library Association’s list of books most frequently complained about (100 books that were banned or attempted to be banned more often than others between 2000 and 2009).